25. Memorandum From Secretary of Defense Laird to President Nixon 1


  • Reduction in Thailand
[Page 55]

As you know, Ambassador Unger and Major General Seith in Bangkok have just completed a negotiation with the Royal Thai Government for a reduction of 6,000 military personnel in Thailand. All aspects of the reduction have been settled by normal State/Defense/JCS/NSC staff discussion with the exception of the precise timing of the withdrawals. Announcement of this reduction has been deferred temporarily, with the upcoming discussion between Secretary Rogers and Foreign Minister Thanat on September 20 at the TCC meeting in New York2 the most likely time for release. The purpose of this memorandum is to secure your decision on a date for the completion of the first 6,000 withdrawal. I recommend that December 31, 1969, be adopted as the deadline.


  • —The budget effect will be greater during this fiscal year.
  • —It might be a useful item to include in your State of the Union Message and my posture statement next year.


—It may leave us open to a charge of bad faith by the Royal Thai Government, inasmuch as Ambassador Unger provided the Thai with a tentative timetable indicating that this withdrawal will not be completed until about 1 September 1970.

Note: The schedule given to the Royal Thai Government was in terms of effective date of cessation of functions and packing up time was added. Assuming the maximum packing time given (60 days) in all cases, the Royal Thai Government would see the schedule about as follows:

Departure Date Cumulative Total
December 1, 1969 950
March 1, 1970 1,800
June 1, 1970 3,900
September 1, 1970 6,000

  • —Phasing out the 18 A–1s, 16 A–26s and 12 U–10s included in the package in December 1969 rather than in June and September 1970 may degrade the air support to the Laotian Forces during much of the next Dry Season enemy offensive (November to May) by about 10%.
  • —The Thai and other Southeast Asia nations might assess this as a decision to “cut and run”.
[Page 56]

Given all of the above, I believe on balance that the domestic advantages outweigh the Southeast Asia-related disadvantages. Thus, I recommend that December 31, 1969, be established as the completion date now so that the field may begin the necessary planning.

Melvin R. Laird
  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 560, Country Files, Far East, Thailand, Vol. II. Top Secret.
  2. See Document 28.